Brazil to produce H1N1 flu vaccine

Rio de Janeiro, June 19 (IANS) Brazil plans to produce vaccines against the influenza H1N1 virus, Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said.

Nationwide production of the vaccine will help the country have an easier and faster access to the drug in case of an epidemic, he said Tuesday.

"When Brazil has the technology, no economic crisis, exchange rate fluctuations, nor unilateral decision from a company can put patient treatment at risk," Xinhua quoted Padilha as saying.

"We only managed to broaden the flu vaccination range because 90 percent of vaccines are

already produced in Brazil," he said.

Brazil also announced 27 partnerships with public and private labs to produce biopharmaceuticals, including an allergy vaccine, a growth hormone, a cicatrizing drug, and medications to treat cancer, arthritis and diabetes.

Through the partnerships, Brazil expects to produce a total of 25 biopharmaceutical drugs.

Padilha hailed the advances in drug production, saying that just "two years ago, the country did not produce insulin or biopharmaceuticals for cancer and inflammatory diseases".

The Brazil-made vaccines will be made possible thanks to French company Sanofi Pasteur transferring the technology to Brazil's Butantan Institute, in Sao Paulo.

H1N1 cases emerged across world again this year after a 2009 pandemic of the virus that killed 20,000 people in several countries.

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